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-   -   compost tea (http://www.hydroponicsonline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1407)

Pete 08-05-2009 10:22 AM

compost tea
Going organic, making compost tea for solution, from yard waste, plantain leaves, kitchen scraps, growing peppers, herbs, cukes.... tight budget, should this work?

ebb/flo, can plants be spaced tighter than seed pack recommendations

GpsFrontier 08-05-2009 06:26 PM


Originally Posted by Pete (Post 3065)
Going organic, making compost tea for solution, from yard waste, plantain leaves, kitchen scraps, growing peppers, herbs, cukes.... tight budget, should this work?

ebb/flo, can plants be spaced tighter than seed pack recommendations

Growing plants in compost in a hydroponic system is not recommended. Compost is great for plants planted in the ground and in pots but not for hydroponics. "Hydroponics" simply means growing without soil. Compost is a nutrient rich soil. You will wind up with nutrient problems, not to mention that the compost partials are so small they will wash away into your nutrient solution and clog your pump.

Plants in any type of hydroponic system can be placed close together especially while young/small, but you need to keep in mind the size of the full grown plant and allow the plant the space to grow. Hydroponic plants generally grow faster and sometimes larger than plants in soil when given the right conditions.

Luches 08-06-2009 04:16 AM

Naaaahhh... what Pete is talking about, is TEA from compost. Actually a liquid extract from compost or fermented plant residues, It can be improved and purified by mechanical recirculation and aeration as well.

Well, I have been interested in it too but it is a rather inexact science, compared to what I use to do. It's hard to tell the general and NPK composition and hence how to use and dose it. Also, due to some "polluants" and unsolved components, it's difficult to measure in concentration (EC or PPM).

Another disadvantage is that most Nitrogen content is not directly available and needs to decompose first (unless it's highly fermented) - and this is only possible if you use a setup with lots of media (coconut choir for example) that allows bacterial activity. You may use it in specially designed setups that work like the ones in Aquaponics (processed excrements from fish tanks provide the nutrients). You can always try it on a experimental base with salads and other leafy low feeders.

Still, if you do not know the basics of its use and handling - you're looking for green trouble only! :D

PS: Pete, how's the monsoon doing in Belize? Guess we've got a El Niño this year...

GpsFrontier 08-06-2009 05:39 AM

I hadn't heard of that process before, makeing liquid nutrients from compost. It is an interesting concept although without the right lab equipment I would think it would be just about imposable to tell if it was a complete nutrient solution. That is, knowing if it has all the required elements and/or in the proper proportions. Because of all the variables I would think it would be be just about imposable to duplicate time and time again also, even with the right lab equipment. Though if you were able to isolate each element and tell their exact concentrations it would be reasonable to add the missing or lacking elements and dilute the over concentrated ones. But I cant really see it as being cost effective.

Luches 08-06-2009 06:16 AM

Well, there are ways of knowing though. There are existing analyses of plants, you can get (or deduce) data from.

Examples for NPK:
Potatoe Vines (dried): 0.6/0.16/1.6
Soybean Hay: 1.5-3.0/0/1.2-2.3
Orange Skins: 0/3.0/27.0

Banana Residues (ash): 1.75/0.75/0.5

Apple Leaves: 1.0/0.15/0.4
Coffee Grounds: 2.0/0.36/0.67
Grapefruit Skins (ash): 0/3.6/30.6

There are ways to get to it, but it's not an easy task.
The easiest and most useful application of compost tea in my opinion is the use as complementary foliar spray.

I always and only use self made nutrients (based on commonly used raw materials) and they are extremely cost effective with around 3-4 US$ per 1000 Liter of solution. And with self calculated and tested formulas, I have exactly what I want and need. A batch of 8 Liter of concentrate (lasting for 1000-1200 Liter of solution) takes me 1 hour of work, preps and cleaning included. :o

GpsFrontier 08-10-2009 05:41 PM


Originally Posted by Luches (Post 3069)
I always and only use self made nutrients (based on commonly used raw materials) and they are extremely cost effective with around 3-4 US$ per 1000 Liter of solution. And with self calculated and tested formulas, I have exactly what I want and need. A batch of 8 Liter of concentrate (lasting for 1000-1200 Liter of solution) takes me 1 hour of work, preps and cleaning included. :o

I think I read in another post that you have been making your own nutrient concentrates for a while now but it takes a lot of technical information to know what you are doing. So far I know that there are over twenty elements are needed for a plant to grow and that carbon, hydrogen and oxygen are absorbed from the air and water. I am also aware that the nutrients used to make hydroponic nutrient solution's need to be water soluble so the plants can drink them up, but I don't know much else on the subject.

I am hoping to have a hydroponic farm growing produce for the local area some day in the future, and would find making my own nutrient concentrates quite useful if it is as cost effective for me as it is for you. I was hoping that you may have some tips on the subject, and maybe even be able to tell me where I can get the information I need to learn the right way to make my own as well?

Luches 08-11-2009 03:20 AM


Originally Posted by GpsFrontier (Post 3076)
I was hoping that you may have some tips on the subject, and maybe even be able to tell me where I can get the information I need to learn the right way to make my own as well?

Hi again,
I have been thinking a while of how I could help you best, before answering your question and pointing you in the right direction. Well, let me give you (and others) some basic hints and directions first:

1. There is very specific knowledge needed to be able to make your own and decent (if not perfect) nutrients. Hence, to not get overwhelmed, - give preference to first things first.

2. Do not try to reinvent the wheel (so to speak), but rely on what has been used, found and tested so far. This mostly concerns raw materials and all ingredients that are needed. Nutrient manufacturing is a exact science and there is not very much room for creativity.

3. Get familiar with Gram and Liter units and understand that 1 PPM = 1 Milligram per Liter. This is the unit which is used for Nutrient Formulas.

3A. Do not mix-up NPK formulas with formulas that are expressed in PPM. While NPK is a industrial standard that does not respect molecular wight for P and K (as in K=28 - PPM instead (as in K= 280 PPM) is always actual content. Hence industrial (manufacturers') NPK formulas, if used or copied, need to be converted first!

4. Before getting started check local availability and prices of the needed ingredients. Here's a list of common raw materials:

Source of Makronutrients

Calcium nitrate
Diammonium phosphate
Magnesium sulphate
Monoammonium phosphate
Potassium phosphate Mono
Potassuim nitrate

Potassium sulphate

In Bold the ones you need by all means.

Source of Micro nutrients (trace elements)

EDTA Iron Chelate Fe
Boric Acid- Powder B
Manganese Sulfate Mn
Zinc Sulfate Zn
Copper Sulfate Cu
Sodium Molybdate Mo

5. With these ingredients at your disposal, some good instructions and a ready to go (normally 2 component based) recipe, anyone should be able to mix his/her own nutrients. All you need is some kitchen tools a accurate scale (preferably precision = 0.1 Gr) a few Liters of hot water and basic protection, like rubber gloves and protection glasses.

6. You still not close to understanding what you are actually doing, and how to optimize formulas. But well.... there's no overnight sensation to expect here.

Think about these basics requirements and needs!
If it sounds Ok and intelligible so far, you might be ready for the next step!:o
But if you feel already overwhelmed by these basics and things, - I guess you should not go for it yet.

Here's how it looks before I start to work ;)


Amigatec 12-06-2009 01:39 PM

I make my own Compost tea for use with growing Giant Pumpkins in soil. Here is how I make it.
Compost tea Brewer

I use worm castings, alfalfa pellets, and mollassas in the mix, I sometimes add other goodies to it as well.

txice 12-06-2009 02:18 PM

Nice presentation and nice setup Amigatec.

Amigatec 12-06-2009 02:26 PM

But the secret is to balance your soil first. CT is made to improve on the microbial activity in the soil. I try to grow as organic as i can with my pumpkins.

Kleeem 12-01-2010 04:04 PM

Luches, you seem like the resident expert here on how to build your own hydro solution. I've been wanting to do this for awhile now. The commercial hydro solutions are not cost effective for growing vegetables. The problem I am having is finding the stuff. It's not like you can walk into Lowes and ask "where's the diammonium phosphate". Where do you get the stuff? I can find about 3/4 of the stuff but the rest I can only find from chemical suppliers who charge a ton for it. Probably because it is laboratory grade.
Thanks in advance for your help.

GpsFrontier 12-01-2010 06:50 PM

Hello Kleeem,
I have not made my own hydroponic nutrients yet myself, but plan to one day. Although I think I have some information that may help you. First is that there is a free hydroponic nutrient calculator at: Science in Hydroponics

It is written and designed by a chemist. It's a stand alone program that is continuously getting updated. And if you look in the drop down window for categories to the left of the page, you can get just about everything you want to know about making your own nutrient solutions, including e-books like: Making Your Own Hydroponic Solutions – Download my Free E-book

I don't remember but I believe there is even a list of resources for the raw chemical elements there somewhere. I have been to busy to fallow up much on making my own, and I don't have the funds to even consider it right now, so it's just on the back burner for me. Also a lot of hydroponic supply houses carry the raw chemical elements (Mineral elements), here are a few that I have found:

I don't readily see them listed on the website, but they do carry them. I have the new free catalog (you can order from their website), and they have a list of Mineral elements on page 11. You can also call them directly at 1-800-426-6937, they are out of Shoreline WA.

Fertilizer Compounds (from Hydro-Gardens) their phone# is listed on every page.
Hydro-Gardens (Home page)

Crop King They have some listed under fertilizers but it may be easier just to call them also. They are a company that custom manufactures nutrients for hydroponic farms, so they have the stuff.

One of the reasons that I have not really been to concerned with manufacturing my own nutrients at this point is, I have found a source of nutrients that for about $120 (including shipping), there dry mix will make 5000 gallons of nutrient solution. That's with ordering both the 25 pound amounts of fertilizer and calcium nitrate, and mixing per instructions. I don't think it really gets much better than that price (even making my own). So unless I needed a custom blend, I'm OK with that for now. I was paying $100-$120 (including shipping), for General hydroponics flora series to make 390 gallons, that's a huge difference in price per gallon.

The Verti-Gro Hydroponic Fertilizers and Nutrients - Organic and Hydroponic Growing for Commercial and Hobby Growers

P.S. You mentioned Lowe's so I assume that your located in the USA and are wanting local suppliers, luches is in Thailand.

Luches 12-01-2010 10:38 PM

Hi Kleeem,

I personally do not recommend the cited software called HydroBuddy from Science in Hydroponics for a number of reasons. It has become a nerd tool, is over-engineered and yet doesn't calculate what I am asking for. It is way too complicated and not what I'd recommend for a beginner or an intermediate nutrient maker. Also, the firstly enthusiastic development has stagnated for a while now and for some unknown reason, the author is only sporadically available for questions and recommendations. The author is indeed a qualified chemist, - but apparently not very experienced in practical nutrient making. You can always give it a shot, - but as someone who is doing nutrients professionally for many years, I have warned you.

As for resources of specific components like diammonium phosphate, (plus a calculator) I recommend a supplier called customhydronutrients.com.

I am in close contact with the owner who is a very knowledgeable person in my mind and I will send you a PM in order you can give my reference. If they don't have what you need, they can always consult you and/or point you to a provider near your location.

The Nutrient Calculator they provide for free, is transparent and fully editable and uses the exact guaranteed analyses of the components (they offer) and not the one of lab grade chemicals. It allows you to actually understand how nutrient calculations are done - and this is the best way to actually get what you want and have most accurate results.

GpsFrontier 12-02-2010 04:16 AM


Just thought I would mention that before you just dismiss Daniel's nutrient calculator, and/or the information from his/her "Science in Hydroponics" blog because of luche's say so. It may interest you to know that luche's often starts arguments with Daniel (the creator of that blog and calculator) in another forum. So it's simply no surprise to me that luche's would not recommend Daniel's calculator. It is true that the frequency of the updated versions is slowing down. But that's what you would expect because with each version there is less and less to update, as well as simply less and less recommendations for new versions. Also I have no doubt that Daniel frequently lets luche's questions and recommendations go unanswered. After all, Daniel must be tired of luche's arguments that have nothing useful to add for him/her by now.

I have nothing to gain either way myself if anyone uses it or not, but don't see how you would have anything to loose. Both the information and calculator are free, and at the very least you would have something to compare to other sources of information. Also Daniel is not selling products, and I would wonder about using a product manufactures calculator. At first impression it would stand to reason that they would want you to be successful. But after all, their goal is to sell products. I would also wonder if the manufactures calculator would accurately calculate products that they may not carry, check for incompatibility's etc.. Especially checking for, and adjusting for, anything other than their products (and letting you know about it if there was would be important).

Anyhow, that being said, I don't see anything wrong with trying it out. But the way I see it, now you have two that you can compare results with/against. Even entering values for known formulas, to see if you get the same results. If you get different results then you can try a small batch on two sets of test plants to see if there's a difference in how they grow, what grows best etc..

I just Checked out the customhydronutrients.com website, and although I cant say much of anything good or bad about it, a few things caught my eye. One is the copyright date at the bottom is 2010, that in itself doesn't mean much other than it's likely a new site. But if it is in fact a new site, or especial a new company. That could indicate they are lacking in experience, and most important customer service. That's just not much of a track record (less than a year), but it doesn't mean that they aren't a legitimate company just starting out either.

Next is there is practically nothing in the way of information on either the "contact us" or "about us" pages (no phone#, no address etc.). The best I found was on their shipping page. Stating that there's free shipping to "Springfield and Joplin, Missouri." That would suggest they are local to that area (or at least their source is). However they also state "All other orders shipped via UPS. All UPS shipments repacked by us to ensure safe delivery."

I'm not exactly sure what that means, but if they are "repacking" all shipments other than Springfield and Joplin, Missouri, that would definitely indicate they were not the ones that packed it in the first place. I have no idea why they would need another company to pack it, then ship it to them just so they can repack it and ship out (except they don't actually pack any of it). Unless, they want to make sure it was their label that was on the package, and not the other company's label or packing slip that got shipped to the end customer.

And because they are not the ones that originally pack/ship the product, that would mean they were not ones that manufacture it, nor do they have their own supply, or even carry any in stock. That would make me wonder if they were just a drop shipping another company's product. That would bother me because then I would not know the company who's product I was actually getting, and what kind of quality it actually was. You would only be getting second hand information and there would be no way to be sure it was accurate.

P.S. I'm not saying that they are not a legitimate company, even shipping another company's product. Just that there are a lot of red flags I would need cleared up (by them), before I would ever feel comfortable enough to order from them (and/or completely trust their information).

Kleeem 12-02-2010 02:03 PM

Thanks to both Luches and GPS. This information is exactly what I have been looking for. I will try both calculators and use the one that works best for me. I'm sure both have their strong and weak points.

Thanks again for the help!

Luches 12-02-2010 09:59 PM

I've just been objectively giving my opinion about Daniel's calculator, as I have been objectively discussing (and arguing) with him, about the issues of the software in question. Besides I have also helped with the development - the empirical EC prediction method (he was intemplementing instead of the former inaccurate LEC prediction) was even my idea and issue of my findings, which he never credited me for.

Fact is that many people run into trouble because the software anticipates and gives preference to some salts and components when they actually want to use others. And this problem cannot be solved mathematically, it's a dead end. You can even follow the respective conversations at the blog.

It's indeed much easier and even time saving to use a spreadsheet instead, where you chose the input and modify the composition until it fits. It's as simple as that.

As for the site I recommended, I will not discuss it here - as I said, I know the owner personally and I vouch for them.

GpsFrontier 12-02-2010 11:21 PM

From what I have read in the other forum, you time and time again argue with Daniel (as well as everyone else), it doesn't even need to be about the calculator software. I remember one time it was about a person that had a problem with pH and grow rocks, you beat it to death with arguing that your theory was the only right one (as always). Even when the original person with the problem stated that Daniel's advice seemed to solve the problem, you couldn't handle that, and continued your arguing.

It doesn't really matter, if Daniel doesn't agree with you, you just make a heated argument about it when you don't get your way (just like you do to everyone else). I remember another time that you proposed something to Daniel for implantation in the calculator, Daniel disagreed. So you gave a link to a study, and Daniel said he/she had already read it. As well as had read many others on that subject. The bottom line was that Daniel decided that the study's were either not conclusive and/or objective enough to be that useful. Again you could not let it go and argued it to death until Daniel said he/she would no longer discus it because it was pointless. You can say that you are only being objective all you want, but others see it another way. And it's very clear that if you don't like someone else opinion, you get demanding and disrespectful toward them, and that's not a sign of being objective (far from it).

P.S. You can vouch for anything you wish, but that still does not clear up any red flags for me in the slightest. If I had a problem with that site for any reason, you wont be the one refunding my money (would you be)? I didn't think so. For me, that's like a 100% money back guarantee you see all the time, but when there's a problem you need a lawyer to get them to do anything about it. Vouching wont do anything for someone when they have a problem either. A guarantee is only worth anything if they honor it (it's useless otherwise). When a company does not supply any company info other than a question form on a website, they must not be confident in their products and/or services (even if there trying to be a legitimate company). If they are not confident, why should I trust them? That's just asking for trouble either way.

Luches 12-03-2010 12:05 AM

The usual puffed out rhetoric and ad hominem argumentation that isn't helpful to anyone and no one actually wants to read. It only confirms your never ending grudge against me.

GpsFrontier 12-03-2010 03:10 AM

Sorry I told the truth Luches,
But that's simply your problem not mine. If you don't want people to know that stuff, then don't do it. Or at least do a better job at hiding it. I wouldn't have brought up the examples of your arguing and disrespect toward Daniel (and others), if you hadn't tried to down play it. I purposely left those type of details out of my original post when I brought up the fact you frequently argue with Daniel. My only purpose of bringing it up in the first place was to inform people that there is another side to that story, and that being objective under those circumstances would be difficult at best (even though you no doubt think otherwise). I saw no need to bring up details, until you decided to argue the point. So I had to elaborate on what I was referring to. You apparently feel it's unfair for people to hear the other side of of things so they can make up their own mind, as to what they think about it. That's just to bad, I don't. I think, and feel that it's very important for people to know about the other side to the story. That way they can decide for themselves what to think.

The only grudge I have (as you call it) is your never ending disrespect towards others. And your personal conduct and/or motives are definitely a legitimate question, and relevant to the issue in this case. So there is no reason that I would feel sorry for you. And now you even stated there is something that feel you should be credited for, so one has to wonder if you are bitter about that too (clouding your opinion). Of coarse anyone would deny it, but you wouldn't bring it up if it wasn't bothering you in the first place. You just expect that you can treat people that way over and over, time and time again, and there just supposed to forget all about it, and then there just suppose to treat you with respect in return. It doesn't work that way in real life. If you wanted to reply, you could have said something like this:

"Yes we do butt heads often, but I respect Daniel ability's and think his/her nutrient calculator will be very useful in the future. But for now there are things that could use improvement." (Then you could have gone into more detail as to what you were referring to.)

That would have been the adult thing to do. Instead you just want to cry about how I don't like you, and how I must have a grudge against you. Simply because I have a different point of view than you do. That's exactly the type of attitude that fuels your arguments with everyone, and not my fault.

P.S. If you don't want to read about it, then don't. I don't have a gun to your head making you. But there are some people that would appreciate hearing about the other side of a story, and you cant dictate weather they are allowed to.

Luches 12-03-2010 11:32 PM

I believe you're loosing more and more of your own credibility GPS, while trying to discredit me by all these absurdities you come up with.

You should rather update your knowledge and get to practice with nutrient making, before writing books about others. You haven't used any calculator practically and you haven't dissolved any chemical components in hot water either, yet - you don't even own an EC-meter to check on your results. You can't actually tell at all what calculator or calculation method is best and what to recommend for a beginner or an intermediate. Isn't that so?

As you have strictly nothing else to compete with (once again), you obviously need to attack me personally. And for you, to hold the upper hand against me, no matter what and how - that is what this is all about for you since ages, isn't it? :)

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